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Je Suis Charlie – I am Charlie - Connie Lawn

Je Suis Charlie – I am Charlie

By Connie Lawn, January 7, 2015

“I am Charlie.” This is the new rallying cry of many who stand up for press freedom and who support the French people. France did not deserve the ruthless, deadly attack on the satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo.” Journalists and political cartoonists do not deserve to be shot, tortured, or beheaded for doing their jobs and highlighting the evils of extremists all over the world.

The journalists at Charlie Hebdo knew they were at risk. They had been threatened before and their offices had been firebombed. Their criticism was often even handed – they attacked several religions and establishment leaders. They may not have been wise to do so, but they were taking a stand for freedom of the press and expression all over the world.

I had the privilege of living and studying in Paris in l964 and 1965. I studied at one of the finest political science institutions in Europe – Institut d’Etudes Politiques. The French opened their arms and their homes to me. This was a mere 20 years after World War Two. The French were trying to compensate for some support of the Nazis during the war. But many had fought against the Nazis and gave shelter to Jewish families who were desperately trying to survive.

In the years since the Wars, the French continued to be a land of refuge, openness, and opportunity for people of many faiths. The Jewish community began to rebuild itself. Muslims flooded in from Northern Africa and the Mideast. For a while it worked. But now anti-Semitism is widespread in France, as in other parts of the world. Innocent and kind law-abiding Muslims are certain to face a backlash from the magazine attacks, and they could face danger, even if they speak out. But we must all speak out at this time. Now we should all say, “Je Suis Charlie.”


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